In a slightly different turn for the blog, I wanted to share a tale of three brothers. Three brothers who lost their lives during the Great War. Considering today is the Great War’s centenary, I thought a post would be apt.
The brothers were three of ten children. Eight brothers and two sisters.
Great-great Grandad, on my father’s maternal side.
Having voluntarily signed up for four years service in April 1915, Victor became part of the territorial force within the British Expeditionary Force. During most of his service, he saw action in and around the Somme (including the Battle of Le Transloy and the Second Battle of Passchendaele) and Flanders.
Victor returned home between May and December 1917, due to being wounded with a dislocated left knee. On return, he was was enlisted into the regular army.
In December 1917, Victor transferred to the 12th (Eastern Division), 37th brigade and served during the Third Battle of Picardy (Battle of Amiens), which was later known as the 100 day offensive that ultimately led to the end of the war. It was also one of the first battles that included armoured warfare.
On the second day of major combat, 9th August 1918, Victor was killed. He was aged 31 years. After his demise, all that was returned to his wife was a tobacco pouch, key and a small bag.
He left behind a two year old daughter.
Victor’s younger brother.
Having enlisted in December 1915 for the duration of the war, Alec’s journey within the war was more ‘colourful’ than his older brothers.
When first posted, he joined The Queen’s 9th, West Kent Regiment as part of the machine gun corp. Research into their movements was admittedly tough. Other researchers have noted this too, possibly due to the corp taking the ‘shine’ away from the infantry so fewer records were kept. It also reduced the amount of the ‘best and cleverest’ men being posted into the infantry. Their skill was much needed to operate the Vickers machine guns.
Within his first year of service, Alec was reprimanded for neglecting to take care of his respirator box and subsequently docked three days pay.
He was admitted with scabies in May 1917 and made a swift recovery. Once recovered, Alec was transferred to back to the machine gun corps.
In early February 1918, Alec was promoted to Lance Corporal. A few months later, during the Battle of St. Quentin, Alec as deemed missing on 23rd March 1918.
Records do not suggest that his body was found.
He was 29.
Older brother to Victor.
Albert originally joined the military in 1893, at the age of 19 for seven years of service. He was assigned to the Royal Artillery.
Following this, he extended his service and joined the Military Foot Police in 1901. Rather comically, Albert was subject to a few misconduct reports. In 1905, as a Lance Corporal he was absent from his beat and found in a public house whilst on duty. He was severely reprimanded.
Yet despite this, he climbed towards the rank of Sargent. In 1915, Albert extended his service beyond 22 years for the duration of the war.
In December 1918, Albert was discharged due to no longer being physically fit for war service.
Research regarding the military foot police is small, but records suggest that Albert may have served in the Boer War. During WW1, Albert’s duties may have included; traffic control, dealing with crimes committed by soldiers, handling POWs and patrolling areas. It was the duty of Military Policemen to apprehend deserters and hold them for trial by court martial.
Military Foot Police Uniform: L – Staff Sargent 1904, R – Corporal 1914
I researched my family tree across the summer of 2014. I really enjoyed learning about my family and managed to trace them as far back as the 1700’s. It was good to share and introduce my family, including my Nan, to our ancestry. I’ve recently done some further digging into records, to gain a better insight into where the brothers served.
On reflection, it feels slightly surreal that the brothers were similar to my and my siblings ages. I couldn’t even imagine what they witnessed.
They may be gone, but they’ll never be forgotten.
Lest we forget.